NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Radical Environmentalists on a Warpath

December 14, 2001

Groups such as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) are pursuing a path of destruction in the U.S., legislators and law enforcement officials say. While they haven't killed anyone yet, critics say it is probably only a matter of time. Lately, such groups have come to be compared with terrorists.

  • For example, in November ELF warned that it had hidden metal bars in tree trunks in the Nez Perce National Forest in order to cripple chainsaws and even people, as a protest against logging.
  • The nation's forests have seen a sharp increase in violent incidents -- equipment vandalized, people intimidated -- over the past 10 years as radical groups seek to inflict as much financial pain as possible on organizations it believes are exploiting the environment.
  • Together with the Animal Liberation Front, which operates along the same lines, ELF is believed to be responsible for over $45 million worth of damages in North America over the past few years.
  • In 1998, it caused fires that did $12 million worth of damage in Vail, Colo., and earlier this year ELF burned down the offices of a lumber company in Oregon.

Since Sept. 11, ELF and ALF have claimed responsibility for starting a fire at a primate research center in New Mexico, releasing mink from an Iowa fur farm, and fire bombing a federal corral for wild horses in California.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations has listed both organizations among the most active domestic terror groups.

But mainstream environmental groups are loath to attack the radicals' methods. Greenpeace, for one, says that its disapproval is self-evident -- and resents being asked to express it.

Source: "The Green Threat?" Economist, December 1, 2001.


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